The British Wildlife Photography Awards 2012 winners have been announced.
So, who am I to judge…?
For: A wonderful image of gannets plunging beneath the surface of the water whilst fishing. Beautiful gradations of light and plenty of behavioural action on display. Lots of bubbles too! My admiration for photographers who accomplish shots like these without the benefit of land beneath their feet and plentiful air to breathe is immense. A fine winner.
Against: Recent BBC wildlife series have tackled this subject in motion and it’s lost some of its power to surprise perhaps.
For: Everyone likes a mighty stag and the trees frame it nicely. The woodland palette matches the animal’s own colouration in a pleasing way (a better entry in the “Habitat” category maybe?).
Against: Red deer are a very familiar subject for UK wildlife photography (blame Richmond Park) and I’m not sure that this adds much to our knowledge or appreciation of the animals. I’m surprised the judges felt it stood out from the bunch at this level of competition. Could be just the post-processing for web but the focus looks slightly off. Three of the Highly Commended images in this hotly contested category are also oddly unremarkable… curious.
For: A great moment well captured as the gull uses its size and strength advantage to raise the indignant puffin off the ground.
Against: I want to know what was the cause of this behaviour and what happened next! If a fuller frame offered any clues they’ve been lost from view. I might have been tempted to add more contrast when processing this image, but the BWPA website editors might be to answer for that.
For: A very moody image contrasting still architectural forms with the organic movement of a flock of birds. Cleverly calculated exposure time to freeze the perched birds whilst blurring the starlings in flight.
Against: The amazing spectacle of starlings returning to roost has been fashionable in the British media for the last couple of years and accounts for very recent BWPA winners also.
For: A setting sun casting shadows through deciduous woodland! Mmmmm.
Against: Quite bland really. Thousands of images like this on the web and all very nice, just not exceptional in any way. It can be a difficult environment for wildlife photography woodland.
For: This shot of a bush-cricket frozen mid-leap from a grass stem must have taken a lot of patience to achieve! It reveals something the naked eye couldn’t observe, which fully justifies the time and technology involved.
Against: Not crazy about the final composition but it does provide a useful sense of space. A composite image showing the different stages involved in executing this leap would have been even better! (but possibly would have breached the competition guidelines in this category).
For: Another triumph of patience judging from the blurb! Great composition with a bold, colourful foreground, wonderful rocky textures in the middle ground and a cute, inquisitive seal approaching from the rear! The backlighting from the surface is perfectly framed by the rock arch.
Against: Can’t really think how this might have been improved unless the subject was a little closer to the camera and performing some improbable pirouette I suppose! But then that would have overwhelmed the “habitat” element. Will work even better printed large for exhibition display, rather than squeezed down small for online I’m sure – an increasing dilemma these days.
For: The hardest part in this category is understanding the convoluted brief I reckon! In this respect the photographer has succeeded admirably. Clearly a bit of planning went into researching and executing this shot of a busy road bisecting a wild landscape at night. Technically and conceptually excellent.
Against: Could have moved the tripod right a fraction maybe? But that would probably have resulted in a horrific road traffic accident and deceased snapper, so perhaps not. 🙂
For: Snow! Yay! Everyone loves snow and hares too! Huge admiration for anyone who freezes their fingers off in these conditions to get shots like these.
Against: It’s a terrific subject but seen it before done equally well. I don’t think the several frames tell the wider story of the season here or are sufficiently different to justify their inclusion.
For: The photographer has made excellent use of privileged access to put this photo story together. Full marks for wading into this controversial area.
Against: The documentary approach assumes some degree of objectivity and even-handedness but the title of this submission and the choice of images and commentary skew this story in favour of the shooters I feel. “Successful fledging of four hen harrier chicks” but how many hundreds of grouse shot from the sky we are entitled to ask and where are the images of those dead birds? It would be interesting to know how this project was funded and facilitated. Difficult for a photographer who needs to keep all parties on-side I would imagine.
So what do you think?
DISCLAIMER: None of the photos I entered in this competition won any prizes! 😉